Controlling Managers ‘Becoming’: The Practices of Identity Regulation
In the last decades, identity has become an increasing target and outcome of organizational control, notably through processes of identity regulation (Alvesson and Willmott, 2002). Several studies provide strong evidence of the relevance of the organizational practices of identity regulation identified by Alvesson and Willmott. However, we currently miss an understanding of ‘how’ these organizational practices are exercised by organizational members. This paper aims at advancing the identity regulation process understandings by providing evidence of specific practices through which organizational identity regulation practices are exercised. Through a qualitative longitudinal study of a managerial training, we found that identity regulation works through (1) practices of linguistic and conceptual resources providing and (2) practices of enactment of these resources. We have also identified ‘side’ practices which sustain and reassure both the participants’ engagement into the training and the discourse enactment. Despite this appearance of effectiveness, parasitic factors such as autonomous discourses produced by participants as well as individual previous identity and willingness to ‘play the game’ undermine the power of identity regulation which remains an uncertain process. Our contributions to the literature are threefold: we document various micro-practices through which identity regulation discourse is performed and linked to organizational members’ identity; we show that these identity regulation practices are sustained by ‘side’ practices; we argue that identity work understanding as an autonomous and individual process needs to be balanced because it can also be a deliberate target of identity regulation. This opens new paths for studies of identity construction processes inside organizations.
|Date of creation:||Jul 2012|
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